Parents of 5th-grade students may already be feeling stressed about the transition to middle school next year. When a child is about to start middle school, it is a bittersweet time for parents. Leaving the elementary years behind is hard, but it can be exciting to see your child growing in maturity. Students have mixed feelings about this time as well. With some forethought, parents can not only survive but ease their child's transition to middle school while letting them grow more independent.
Students' concerns about middle school usually fall into three categories: logistics, social skills, and academics. The best thing parents can do in the months leading up to starting middle school is to have an ongoing, open discussion about how students are feeling. Then parents can address those concerns, and possibly even put a positive spin on the upcoming changes.
Logistically, changing classes is usually the number one concern students have about middle school. Parents can help address this by obtaining a copy of their schedule and helping students familiarize themselves with their new classes before the school year starts. Parents can also point out that changing classes allows them a change of scenery throughout their day, and by changing physical classrooms, as well as the people they are with, it will make their day more interesting.
In middle school many rules change and students are expected to be more responsible. This applies to being on time to class, having all the materials they need, and keeping parents informed of grades and upcoming events.
When many students start middle school, they are able to navigate themselves to their after school activities on campus safely. This is a big step, and many parents have more anxiety over this than students. Have clear guidelines about friends, checking in, snacks, and any other issues that may arise so this can be a productive step toward independence.
In elementary school, teachers play a big role in the interaction between students. With the changing of classes, your child may feel like they are flailing in the social sea because they may not have close friends in many of their classes or lunch period. By encouraging your child to brush up on their social skills, you will not only prepare them for middle school, but they will use these skills through high school and college too. Some tips include:
- Join extracurricular clubs and activities to get to know more people.
- Introduce yourself to one new person each day.
- Practice joining in a group conversation without interrupting.
- Use eye contact when you are talking to a peer.
- Always be kind, considerate, truthful, and encouraging to others.
As they leave elementary school behind, it's expected that students will be challenged academically. With higher learning comes higher expectations, and students may need a little help with this transition. Parents can encourage students that even though school work will be a little more demanding, students have the freedom to choose some electives that will be of more interest to them.
Classes in music, art, technology, or advanced sciences allow students to try different things and many find a new passion for something unexpected. To help students do their best academically while helping them start to gain some independence in this area, parents can encourage students to:
- Stay organized with a clear system for keeping track of papers and assignments.
- Manage their time well, by writing down what must be done each day, and keeping to a schedule.
- Study with another student. Students benefit from both re-learning from a different person, or from re-teaching it to a friend who is struggling.
- Keep track of grades and make sure everything is turned in on time.
The middle school years are a transition for parents and students. While students are navigating this time, parents should step back a little bit, but be ready to give assistance when needed. Keeping in contact with teachers, monitoring grades, and supervising at home are three easy ways parents can ensure their child is making the transition successfully.
Middle school at Greater Atlanta Christian School is an exciting time for students to explore new interests and discover their passion as they become more independent. Students are challenged and prepared to transition to high school with the skills needed to be successful academically, socially, and spiritually. Visit campus to see our middle school students in action and learn more about what GAC can offer your child.